I rent the downstairs apt of what used to be a garage. There is one other unit located on the second floor. My smoke alarm was going off frequently without my knowing why. Landlord finally told me this last (9th) time, that the upstairs and downstairs smoke alarms are hard wired together so I know if my neighbor has set their place on fire, and vice versa. Needed to be that way to be up to code.

Is this a normal occurrence? Thanks.

  • I think most places now require multi-family units to have interconnected fire alarms, some even require single-family units to have interconnected alarms. I'll try and locate a code reference.
    – Tester101
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:40
  • 1
    Having linked alarms sounds like a great idea since it sounds like the apartment was an owner conversion so you probably don't have rated fire walls between dwellings as you might in a purpose built multi-dwelling building. But since you're getting so many false alarms, it's probably worth talking with the landlord (and/or tenant upstairs) to find out why - maybe the alarm is too close to a kitchen or bathroom, or maybe a different alarm would be less prone to false alarms (or easier to hush), or maybe they just need to open a window when making toast.
    – Johnny
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:49
  • @Tester101 if an area has adopted the recent International Residential Code it calls for interconnects only on new construction or when remodeling removes walls/ceilings that permit rewiring for that purpose.
    – Jeff Meden
    Feb 12, 2016 at 20:10
  • @JeffMeden That's true for most code changes. However, with multi-family units, sometimes other governing bodies are involved. Upgrades may be required at annual inspections, or due to other licensing type reasons. It really depends on the local government.
    – Tester101
    Feb 12, 2016 at 20:19
  • @Tester101 true, but two-family dwellings are almost always grouped with single family ones, as governed by places that adopt the IRC. The IBC kicks in once you get into true multifamily (R-1 10 or more occupants).
    – Jeff Meden
    Feb 12, 2016 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


It depends on your building/fire code jurisdiction, some do and some do not. More importantly, if the garage is a separately occupied dwelling it should be isolated from the other apartment via fire-resistant materials. This presumption (which is almost always a part of the local building code) is what alleviates the need for an interconnected alarm in the practical sense. If it's not, I would sleep well knowing that a fire in the other unit would trigger the alarm and wake me up.

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